MPAA Rating: PG-13
for intense perilous sequences, some disturbing images and brief strong language
Runtime: 90 minutes
Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón
Cast: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney
For most of us, what happens in outer space is either something we read about or see on TV. The vast, endless black out there seems mysterious and only beckons a few to be courageous enough to actually board a vessel that will take them there.
In Gravity, Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) is a veteran space traveler on his last mission. As mission commander of Shuttle Explorer, he’s joined by Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock). Their mission? Readjusting the Hubble Telescope. Ryan, a single woman trying to get over a very bad incident in her life, is a brilliant medical engineer but still a little nervous on her first shuttle mission.
Matt has a grand time floating around with his new jet pack, which means he doesn’t have to be tethered to the shuttle. In addition to taking in some of the more incredible views of earth and the skies around it, Ryan -- attached to a robotic arm -- is installing a new scanning system on the telescope.
Things are going along okay until a chain reaction of collisions caused by the detonation of a Russian satellite hundreds of miles away sends a huge area of debris flying into everything and breaking apart the shuttle. Matt floats away from Ryan, who can’t disengage from the robotic arm until another piece of debris hits and she’s off floating in space all alone.
Objects are still hurling by like models on a Parris runway and although Matt and Ryan can communicate through their instruments for a short while, it’s clear they have no idea how to get back home. Finally Matt tells Ryan she needs to get to the Chinese space station and get a ride from there. (It was never revealed how someone steers themselves thought space – makes me curious.)
Because Gravity features only a two-person cast -- in addition to Ed Harris’s voiceover from Mission Control -- it’s difficult to create believable characters. However, Bullock plays her part exceptionally well. Ryan comes alive right before our eyes as she’s forced to rely on herself and what little knowledge she has about spacecraft to survive. Bullock could earn an Oscar nomination for this role.
Director Alfonso Cuarón took a big leap undertaking the filming of this story he co-wrote with his son Jonás Cuarón. He worked with great collaborators, especially cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who captures every eerie and frightening moment so well I often held my breath. These filmmakers became very innovative when creating the illusion of being in space as well as the realistic appearance of all the equipment and the sensation of no gravity. We really feel for Ryan’s plight.
My readers know I’m not a fan of 3D for the most part, but Gravity is a must-see in 3D.
Photo credits: Warner Bros.